Index

May 31, 2000

PRESS CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENT WILLIAM CLINTON, PRIME MINISTER ANTONIO GUTERRES, AND EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSION PRESIDENT ROMANO PRODI

2:49 P.M. (L)



                                THE WHITE HOUSE

                         Office of the Press Secretary
                                  (Lisbon, Portugal)
      ______________________________________________________________
      For Immediate Release                              May 31, 2000


                 PRESS CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENT WILLIAM CLINTON,
                        PRIME MINISTER ANTONIO GUTERRES,
              AND EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSION PRESIDENT ROMANO PRODI

                           Palacio Nacional de Queluz
                                         Lisbon, Portugal


2:49 P.M. (L)


...........


     Q    Prime Minister Guterres and President Prodi, in a few months
President Clinton will make a decision about a national missile defense
system for the United States.  For an American audience, can you explain
any European concerns about deploying such a system, and whether, in your
just-completed trip to Moscow, President Putin expressed any flexibility
about amending the ABM to allow such a system?

     And President Clinton, in the system that you envision, would that
allow for the missile protection system to protect Europe and our NATO
allies, as Governor Bush has suggested?  Thank you.

     PRIME MINISTER GUTERRES:  Well, President Clinton was kind enough to
inform us about what he thinks about the matter.  I think he'll express
that better than myself.  I'd like to say that this is a matter in which
the European Union has not an official position, but we have -- I'll say
all of us -- a main concern.  We live in the Northern Hemisphere where from
bering to bering we want to have a strong security situation.  We believe
we have built a lot on the process to create that.  And we believe that
every new move to strengthen these must be as comprehensive as possible, as
agreed by everybody as possible, and as corresponding as possible to
everyone's concerns and to everyone's preoccupations in this matter.

     PRESIDENT PRODI:  Well, I have to add also that President Clinton --
there was no yet precise proposal done.  But we discussed it on the general
principle that there was no decoupling, that there is no division between
the two sides of the Atlantic.  We are still, and we are more and more
joined together in our defense purpose, not only in our economic purposes.
And so the spirit in which we judge the program -- we didn't go into the
details -- was a constructive and friendly talk.

     Q    And the Russian President?

     PRESIDENT PRODI:  No, the Russian President didn't touch the problem
two days ago.  The program was not on the agenda and we didn't make any
head to that.

     PRESIDENT CLINTON:  First, let me just very briefly reiterate the
criteria that I have set out for making a decision.  First of all, is there
a threat which is new and different?  The answer to that, it seems to me,
is plainly, yes, there is and there will be one.  That is the danger that
states that are not part of the international arms control and
nonproliferation regime would acquire nuclear weapons and the missiles to
deliver them, and that they might make them available to rogue elements not
part of nation states, but allied with them.

     Secondly, is the technology available to meet the threat?  Thirdly,
what does it cost?  Fourthly, what is the impact of deploying a different
system on our overall security interests, included but not limited to arms
control?  So that is the context in which this decision must be made and
why I have worked so hard to try to preserve the international framework of
arms agreements.

     Now, I have always said that I thought that if the United States had
such technology, and if the purpose of the technology is to provide
protection against irresponsible new nuclear powers and their possible
alliances with terrorists and other groups, then every country that is part
of a responsible international arms control and nonproliferation regime
should have the benefit of this protection.  That's always been my
position.

     So I think that we've done a lot of information sharing already with
the Russians.  We have offered to do more, and we would continue to.  I
don't think that we could ever advance the notion that we have this
technology designed to protect us against a new threat, a threat which was
also a threat to other civilized nations who might or might not be nuclear
powers, but were completely in harness with us on a nonproliferation
regime, and not make it available to them.  I think it would be unethical
not to do so.  That's always been my position and I think that is the
position of everyone in this administration.



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